Steady… One Step at the Time


Ancestral Pueblo people settled in the Frijoles Creek Canyon of New Mexico 800-900 years ago. Today, Bandelier National Monument preserves an excavated portion of their cliff dwellings.

I love language. I’m passionate about the power of words. But I cannot find words adequate to convey in a brief dispatch the intensity and subtlety of the visual, physical, historical, cultural and spiritual experience of Bandelier. So just a short story…

The end of the Main Loop Trail presents a choice: turn back and return to the visitor center via a nature trail or continue on to the Alcove House, a large cliff dwelling 140 feet above the canyon floor. There is only one way to get up to the top: up… up narrow stairs cut into the rock and up four tall, wooden ladders. Visitors who have a fear of heights, or any doubts about their physical capacity to make the steep climb, are advised by the Park Service to take in the view from the bottom and not try for the top.

I’m a flatlander acclimated to life on the even ground of the northern prairie. Even the easy trails of Bandelier weren’t so easy at an altitude of 6,000-plus feet. The view from the bottom of the Alcove House ladders was intimidating.

I found that as with most steep challenges in life, steady and one step at a time was the way to go. Getting to the top was its own reward. The view at the top… inspiring.

Jean Kindem